Just as I thought I was beginning to spend less time on Facebook and find it less appealing, Nielsen released a recent study showing I’m in the minority if I feel that way. According to the latest Nielsen report the average American spent 30 hours online during the month of August, viewing more than 3,100 web pages.

The most visited site – Google. But that wasn’t the site that hooked viewers in for the long term. 163.2 million people in the US visited Facebook in August and they spent nearly 8 hours per month on the site. This total, is almost four times more than any other site. For example, Yahoo users spent just over two hours a month, YouTube viewers spent one hour and 41 minutes.

But even more surprising is the fact that the total time spent on Facebook has increased two hours per user in the last year! When Nielsen conducted the study in August 2010, they found Americans spent nearly 6 hours a month on the social networking site. This figure is high, for sure, but it’s low if we are looking at the true Facebook user.

Since Nielsen’s report takes into account every Facebook user, you have the person who logs in once a month for five minutes figured in with the college student who lives with a Facebook tab open on their computer. In fact I’d be willing to bet the average high school and college student spends 8 hours a week on Facebook.

While I’m all for Facebook and the amazing communication channels it opens to the public – this figure got me thinking. How would the world be different if we spent a quarter of the time we spend on Facebook doing some other engaging task? What if we spent six hours on Facebook and took the other two hours to call a friend or sit down for a cup of coffee and a good book? For a college student spending eight hours a week on the site, that would mean an additional 8 hours a month, and an additional 96 hours a year. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use an extra 96 hours.

Katie Hinderer

Katie Hinderer is a freelance writer and social media enthusiast. She holds a degree in Journalism from Marquette University. Over the years she has transitioned from traditional publishing...